For Emirati women in the workplace ‘the challenge is within you’

Over the years, the UAE Government has clearly and robustly shaped its initiatives in supporting gender equality.

Since the beginnings of this country, it was essential to the late Sheikh Zayed that female roles and complete gender equality would be enshrined in the constitution. Yet while women were entitled to education and basic jobs they did not necessarily get equal job opportunities. I would say that was the case for so long that we’ve lost count. Nevertheless, society has finally started to see what the government has been seeing all those years. Women are as capable as men, it is as simple as that.

Gender equality is not just a worldwide issue but a burning one – women in some countries still don’t get paid the same as their male co-workers. In fact, according to a McKinsey & Co report on gender parity, published last month, the Middle East scored 0.48 in gender inequity, with 1.00 being absolute injustice; which makes 0.48 “extremely high”.

The government is not the only party in the UAE offering a light at the end of this long tunnel, as a lot of large companies have shown their fight for this cause as well.

In an exclusive interview with The National at the World Economic Forum’s Summit on the Global Agenda this week in Abu Dhabi, the chief executive of Strata Manufacturing, Badr Al Olama, said that more than 40 per cent of Strata employees are female. These are not just women who sit in their offices, but women who truly work hard in manufacturing, he said. Mr Al Olama says that those women do work hard, and they don’t “slow down the procedure” as some stereotypes might claim. Some are ladies that didn’t get a chance to complete their studies and Strata helped train them, and after they proved themselves capable, gave them jobs.

I was personally amazed on hearing this. It is breathtaking how Emirati women started to push themselves harder to get what they want, driving the community to adjust and accept a simple fact – women are as good as men.

It is indeed time that young women start seeking a challenge and not wait for it, and I here quote the Minister of Economy Sultan Al Mansouri: “The challenge is within you.”

Hessa Al Qayed, participated in this year’s World Economic Forum Summit on the Global Agenda, held in Abu Dhabi this week, as part of the Student Journalism Programme.


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